Saturday, July 30, 2016

End of the Month Grocery Report

We started off with Breakfast this morning with scrambled egg English muffin sandwiches. 

We went to the flea market today, but were only able to sell for a few hours as we were rained out. 

The flea market we go to is in the state of Georgia, which is easy for us to go to since we live right over the state line in Tennessee. 

And there are two Kroger grocery stores in that area that we can go to, so we decided to go to Kroger and pick up a few items.  I have to say I am loving shopping at Kroger. 

First of all I am able to buy milk so much cheaper there than here. It is very close to $3.00 a gallon here for the store brand milk, but in Georgia I am able to buy it for under $2.00 a gallon. As a result we've bought more milk this summer than we have in a long time. 

Secondly, I am able to buy Italian Sausages on mark down there so much cheaper than here in Tennessee. We've had more Italian Sausage this summer than we have in a long time since it is $4.00 a pound here in Tennessee. 

Also, the sales tax on food in Georgia is 4% while sales tax on unprepared food in Tennessee is taxed at 5.5%.  And I can always tell a difference on my grocery bill. 

I found one package of Bratwurst and one package of mild Italian Sausage for $1.99 each. 

I found three one pound packages of Southern Slaw from the produce department marked down to 79¢.

I bought one gallon of buttermilk, one gallon of chocolate milk, which were both priced at $1.89. 

I also bought two half gallons of skim milk, which were on sale for 89¢ each. 

I bought one pound of red grapes for $1.24.

And my daughter found some K cups marked down in the clearance section. 

My total for today was $16.30, which makes my total food cost for July just under $100 coming in at $96.00. We used up a lot of food we had in our pantry and freezer to be able to come in at such a low amount.

As my regular readers know my income is lower in the summer since school is out and I am not working. We did make money at the flea market this summer, which helped a great deal. School starts back on August 8th, so I should be returning to work soon. 

We also had some help from my neighbor as he has put more free vegetables on his front lawn. 

And we were able to pick up these two free items from Kroger's Friday Freebie program. We won't drink these so we will add them to the stuff we sell at the flea market. 

~ Living within our Means ~

Monday, July 25, 2016

Flea Market Man: Selling What You Own to Make Ends Meet

We see all sorts of different people at the flea market. Some are pleasant and friendly, some are unfriendly and rude, and some are in between. 

There was one individual in particular I met this weekend who I felt such empathy towards. 

He was not only out of work, but had recently been in the hospital and was trying to come up with money to pay his mortgage and some other bills. So, in his efforts to raise money he was selling all of the tools he used to make a living. 

He was very motivated to sell, stayed on his feet the whole time, talking loudly to try and sell things, offering a lower price to customers who started to walk away. 

One item he had for sale was a like new wheelbarrow. I was surprised when I saw it for sale because who sells something they just bought only to have to turn around and sell it?

One customer asked the price and he told him it was $40, but when the customer started to walk away he lowered his price to $35 and said he had recently paid $80 for it as Sears. 

Several times during the day he said he was going to have to buy many of these items again once he got back on his feet. He was a very likable fellow and my heart just went out to him. 

This gave me a lot to think about over the weekend and how people do whatever it takes to make ends meet. And why some people stay in their particular financial situation year after year and don't seem to make any financial progress over the years. 

This man had paid top dollar for his tools and was now selling them for half of what they were worth only to have to purchase them again later once he got back on his feet. It's like two steps forward, one step backward.

Still, this man was doing what he needed to do to take care of himself. I don't know if he had a family to support or not. I do know of other people who have done similar things and I'm sure many of you know someone like this as well. 

I may not completely understand this man's situation, but I feel like I know where he is coming from. I know I have sold things in a pinch to make ends meet. 

When my ex-husband left me with a baby and no income to support us, I sold many things to make ends meet. And I did without many things. Cable TV was the first to go and even the telephone was turned off at a time when not everyone (including me) had a cell phone. It was a tough time, but we made it through that difficult time. 

Reasons like these are why it is so important to have an emergency fund. So when times get tough you have something to fall back on to get through the hard times. 

If you have a job, keep it. Never stop working to better yourself and your financial situation. You never know what may be just around the corner and you will need the money from your job or your emergency fund to make ends meet. 

Just some food for thought this Monday morning. 

~ Living within our Means ~

Friday, July 22, 2016


I've been wanting to make some muffins lately, but didn't have a 6-cup muffin pan to use in the toaster oven. I do have some silicon baking cups, but muffins tend to stick to the ones we have and we lose half the muffin trying to get them out. 

I do have a 12-cup muffin pan, but that would require the use of the big oven and I don't want to use it because it will heat up the house. Our air conditioner is working hard enough as it is during this heat wave without adding additional heat into the house.  

My daughter surprised me last night when she came home with this. 

She bought it at the Dollar Tree for $1.00 and it fits perfectly in our toaster oven. 

She is definitely a keeper.  :)

The other day I was browsing through the items in the Crash & Burn section at Food City and stumbled across these baking cups. 

They have been on my grocery list and finding them for 45¢ for 90 cups was a bargain in my book. I bought four packs of them, which is definitely cheaper than Pam spray. 

With these added tools in my kitchen I am now able to use up several muffin mixes I have in my pantry without heating up the house. 

~ Living within our Means ~

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


We received the following two items free this week from Food City because we signed up to receive text messages from them. 

They send a text about once or twice a week or so to come in and get a free item. Be sure to check with your local grocery stores to see if they offer any benefits like this. 

I was driving home the other day when I noticed one of our neighbors had a box of vegetables on his front lawn that was labeled "free vegetables". 

So, I turned around to check it out and there was plenty of yellow squash inside, so I took these for my family and left plenty for the next person. It is very generous when people offer their surplus free in this way.  

Have you received any free items lately?

~ Living within our Means ~

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Good Deal on Juice

A good deal we scored on Monday was juice from Kroger. 

Old Orchard juice is normally priced $2.49 at Kroger but was on sale 10 for $10.00.

We had 12 - $1.00 off 2 juice coupons. 

So we were able to purchase 24 bottles of juice for 50¢ each. 

~ Living within our Means ~

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Saving Money on Food from Home

If you are trying to save money by taking your food and snacks with you when you leave the house this tip is for you. 

Even with good planning on my part, there are times when we are out of the house longer than I had planned and we need something to eat. 

Last weekend we were at the flea market, which we are used to leaving by 10 or 11 a.m. Since we were at a new flea market we didn't realize they stayed until 1 p.m.

What I decided to do was go to the grocery store. 

Here is what I purchased:

I went to the deli and purchased 1/2 pound of the deli meat they had on sale, which cost me $2.50. I had them slice it thin to stretch it as far as possible. 

I also picked up a couple of single use mayonnaise packets from the deli, so no cost for those. I also picked up a loaf of bread for 86¢ (even I was expecting to pay more for the bread). 

So, for $3.36 plus tax, I was able to make us several sandwiches and put the rest into the cooler. 

We bring the cooler with us every time with ice and cold drinks. I placed the deli meat inside to take home for later, and we still have some of that deli meat to use for other sandwiches at home. 

I would not be able to get that much food at a fast food establishment for such a small amount of money. 

Other things I have found in the grocery store at various times like this include yogurt on clearance for 39¢, and a vegetable tray for $1.99. 

This is a perfect item to eat when I am out of the house and away from home. It's affordable and healthy as well. 

The moral of the story here is to use the grocery store for food even at times when it seems unconventional. 

Also, if you are the type of person who forgets to bring your refillable water bottle with you when you go out this tip is for you. 

While I was there I brought my refillable water bottle and filled it up for free at the grocery store's water fountain.  

Make a concentrated effort to bring it with you because eventually it will become like second nature to you and it will become a habit not to leave home without it. 

Trust me, I've done it and I know it works.  :) 

~ Living within our Means ~

Monday, July 11, 2016

Our Deal of the Weekend

The chatter on Facebook this weekend was that Walmart was selling the Charmin Essentials 12 roll packages of toilet paper for $1.00 each. 

So, we headed out to Walmart and sure enough it was selling for $1.00 a package, so we purchased 15 packages. My daughter also had four $1.00 off coupons, so four of the packages were free. 

I'm not sure if it was a glitch or what, but this would normally sell for closer to $5 in my opinion. My daughter thinks it would have been over $7 based on other packages she saw. 

Our deal would have been at least $45 normally, but we bought it for $12 plus tax with the coupons. 

You may or may not still be able to find some today. People are still talking about finding it while others are having trouble with finding any. I've heard that it was a computer error and Walmart fixed the price at midnight last night. 

It really pays to read the frugal, couponing, money saving groups on Facebook because you don't know when something like this will pop up and you can save yourself some money. 

As always, your mileage may vary (YMMV). 

~ Living within our Means ~

Thursday, July 7, 2016

My Frugal Week

For two days only our local Fresh and Low sold five pound blocks of sliced American deli style cheese for $10. This normally sells for $15, so this was a good deal and I picked one up yesterday along with two bags of cole slaw mix, which they were selling for 50¢ each. 

I'll be incorporating grilled cheese sandwiches, rice and cheese, and macaroni and cheese into our July menus with this cheese. 

Today I finished an inventory of my pantry and freezer. It's a good way for me to know what's on hand, so that I can plan meals around those food items. For example, I found that I have an oversupply of kidney beans (18 cans), so I will be looking for a way to use those up. 

Also, I can search for recipes/ideas online using the ingredients I have on hand. This is one way to save money on food by using up the food I have on hand rather than looking up recipes for dishes I want to make and then going to the store to buy those ingredients. 

I made more chocolate syrup this week as it's good and inexpensive to have on hand to stir into a glass of chocolate milk or over a banana for chocolate cravings. 

Homemade Chocolate Syrup


1/2 cup cocoa 
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium saucepan, mix together the sugar and cocoa powder until most of the lumps are gone. Add water and salt and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently. Bring to a boil and cook for a few minutes, until thickened, continuing to stir frequently. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes, then add vanilla extract. Store in air tight container in the fridge.


We went to the flea market and set up on Wednesday. Many of the regulars we see on Saturday were at the Wednesday show, which is held in a different location. We did well even though it was threatening to rain most of the day. Of course, we took sandwiches and drinks with us and other than the $2.00 I spent on cucumbers, did not spend any money today. 

I picked up six cucumbers for this week. They were priced at 3 for $1.00 and the lady that grew them bought several things from me as well. She and her husband are retired, but grow produce to sell as a side income. She sold most of her produce for $1.00 a pound and said it made a good side income for them. 

We continue to make do without a microwave. I have been using a loaf pan to heat up leftovers in the toaster oven, which works remarkably well. I wanted to make cornbread muffins the other day, but do not have a six-cup muffin pan to fit in the toaster oven, and I did not want to heat up the house with the big oven, so I made corn bread patties instead on my griddle.
We continue to eat the food we have in our pantry and do as little grocery shopping as possible. I have spent very little on groceries this month ($14.10 so far) and will continue to do so at least through the month of August. I do have a growing grocery list though. 

How is your week going?

~ Living within our Means ~

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Taco Pasta Salad

Using pasta in a Mexican inspired dish has not inspired me in the past since I feel like tortillas should be used in Mexican dishes. I changed my mind recently though after seeing a taco pasta salad recipe online that I thought looked good. 

I did not follow that recipe exactly because I didn't have all of the ingredients on hand, but rather followed the recipe loosely using what I had in my pantry. 

I cooked one pound of pasta, rinsed it in cool water, and added two cans of corn, one can of diced tomatoes, one can of chili beans, one can of black beans, and shredded cheddar cheese. Black olives would have been a great addition, but I did not have any on hand. 

For the dressing I used 1/2 cup of olive oil, 3 tablespoons lime juice, and chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and salt & pepper. I did not measure the spices.  

Turns out this was very refreshing. This could be a very versatile recipe as you can add almost anything you have on hand. 

I like the fact that it is served cold, whereas if I had a dish with tortillas, I would want it to be heated up and we are doing without a microwave right now. 

This would be very easy and refreshing to have ready to eat when we come home after swimming for a quick dinner too. 
~ Living within our Means ~

Saturday, July 2, 2016

My Frugal Week

I used Gas to find the lowest gas in my area and then filled up my car. I saved $1.30 by doing this, which would save me  $67.60 over the course of one year. 

As usual this week, my daughter and I hauled off the garbage ourselves instead of paying someone to do it for us. 

I had to drive a little farther this week since the local trash collection does not accept things like microwaves, so I drove to town and deposited both of them at the main trash center. 

I tried to recycle them but the local recycling center does not accept microwave ovens. They did however take a metal fan that was no longer working. 

I also disposed of a metal stool that was broken. It's such a great feeling to get rid of things that are no longer useful. 

We packed water and snacks anytime we left the house this week as we are still continuing our no eating out rule, which includes drinks. 

I made sweet iced tea, lemonade, orange iced tea and koolaid to have for drinks, ready to go, in the refrigerator. I also kept several pitchers of cold water in the fridge. Anything to lessen the temptation of wanting to get drinks while we are out and about because they can easily wreck your budget.

We received several tomatoes from a friend that were on the verge of spoiling. Canning them right now is out of the question since my two largest burners do not work on my stove. So we decided to dehydrate them and turn them into dried tomato powder. I placed them into the jars I saved from some kalamata olives. 

My daughter has been invited to a friend's wedding on Saturday. We had been brainstorming on what she could bring as a gift when she stumbled upon a glass wedding picture frame while she was perusing the Dollar General penny sales. Perfect gift and only cost her one penny. 


When my Dad left here almost two years ago now, he left multiple things here that needed to be removed. One of them was a walker, which I listed for sale on a local Facebook group weeks ago and it finally sold this week for $25.00.  I am so glad to be rid of it as it was taking up precious space. 

We are continuing to declutter the house in order to have things to sell at the flea market. We did not go today however, since my daughter had the wedding to attend. 

We will make up for this by attending a Wednesday show this coming week. I am loving how clean and uncluttered the house is becoming during this major decluttering project. 

This week I was reading over at Saving and came across their list of money saving blogs. Here is a link if you are interested. 

Also, I was reading at The Frugal Kitchen about cooking on a small budget and I found the article interesting. Here is a link if you are interested. 

I hope you have had a good week. I've planned out my budget for the month of July and hope and pray that it works according to plan. Here is hoping we all have a good frugal month.  :)

~ Living within our Means ~

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